The Spaniard, who spent six years at Liverpool and claimed the 2005 European Cup, has been out of work since being sacked by Internazionale in December after a disappointing six-month spell at San Siro. He has since returned to live on Merseyside and last week publicly expressed an interest in returning to management in the Premier League.
Chelsea would offer him an attractive opportunity at a club competing in the Champions League – the Londoners still harbour some hopes of retaining their league title – and the 51-year-old is understood to be keen to be considered should Ancelotti's two-year period in charge end next month. Abramovich and the club's chief executive, Ron Gourlay, will be aware of his interest but will not make a decision on the Italian's future before the end of the current campaign.
Benítez would represent a high-calibre candidate for the position given his availability and desire to work in England – "If I have good offers from abroad it will be OK, but my priority is to return to the Premier league," he said earlier this month – with his relationship with Fernando Torres, whom he originally signed for Liverpool from Atlético Madrid, being a further attraction. The pair remain in contact, with Benítez having suggested recently that the £50m forward, who has yet to score for Chelsea, would benefit from working with a Spanish manager.
Whether the Londoners' supporters would take as keenly to Benítez's potential candidature is more open to question given the fractious nature of games between Chelsea, particularly under José Mourinho, and Liverpool during his time on Merseyside. Yet Abramovich may consider the Spaniard's record in Europe – he also won a Uefa Cup with Valencia and lost to Ancelotti's Milan in the final of the 2007 Champions League – as compelling.
The lack of credible candidates to replace Ancelotti, particularly with Guus Hiddink unlikely to be considered for the managerial position, could yet lead to the Italian seeing out the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge. The incumbent would like to remain at the club and his prospects would be enhanced should Chelsea extend their recent form.
Ancelotti, whose team entertain West Ham United tomorrow evening, remains only cautiously optimistic that the Premier League title can still be retained despite a run of six wins in seven matches that has seen Chelsea vault Arsenal into second place, albeit still six points from the summit. The Londoners are still to visit Old Trafford and will hope that United may yet be distracted by their imminent participation in the Champion League semi-finals against Schalke, and potentially a subsequent final, though Ancelotti is realistic.
"If we want to have a chance we have to think that we have to win every game," Ancelotti said. "We have to be honest with ourselves. I would like to be in United's position, six points ahead, because if they do not lose total control they will win [the title]. The title is in their hands – we have to be honest about that – but we also have to believe that we can win every game left, including at Old Trafford like we did last year.
"And our moment is good. It has been in the league, but also in the last 16 of the Champions League against Copenhagen it was good. We could have done better against United (in the quarter-finals), and we were close to doing better. But the team started to play well when we recovered our important players. When they came back to be fit, the team has started playing well again."